Can I File for Bankruptcy Relief More Than Once?

How Often Can I File For Bankruptcy Relief?

Bankruptcy is a way to deal with mounting debts you can no longer manage. If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past, there are time limits governing when you can file again. You have to meet certain time requirements before you are eligible to receive another discharge of debt.

If you received a discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, you must wait eight years before filing another Chapter 7 case. But this doesn’t mean that you are out of options if you are facing overwhelming debt again.

When Can I Receive Another Bankruptcy Discharge?

You'll qualify for another discharge of debt if you meet the waiting period rules. This is how it works:

The frequency of applying for bankruptcy depends on which type of bankruptcy petition that you’re filing, something known as the 2-4-6-8 rule. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Filing Chapter 13 after Chapter 13: two years.
  • Filing Chapter 13 after Chapter 7: four years.
  • Filing Chapter 7 after Chapter 13: six years.
  • Filing Chapter 7 after Chapter 7: eight years.

What If I Can’t Wait to Refile?

If it has been less than four years since you filed a Chapter 7 case and you are facing urgent wage garnishments or an imminent repossession, you could still file a Chapter 13 petition. Filing Chapter 13 immediately after Chapter 7 is also referred to as Chapter 20 bankruptcy. You won’t receive a discharge when filing Chapter 20, since you aren’t waiting the full four years between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. However, you will get protection from the creditors who are garnishing wages or threatening to repossess a car. A Chapter 13 petition will give you the time you need to pay down debts and preserve your peace of mind even though you are not yet eligible for another discharge order.

There may be other reasons you might file a Chapter 13 petition after filing for Chapter 7:

  • Back Taxes: If you discharge all of your debts in Chapter 7 but still have back taxes to pay, Chapter 13 will give you five years to pay those taxes.
  • Student Loans and Alimony/Child Support: You may also use the five year Chapter 13 plan term to pay back items such as student loans or alimony/child support arrears that weren’t discharged in your Chapter 7 case.
  • Mortgage Payment Defaults: Under Chapter 7, there is no option to help you catch up on past due mortgage payments. In Chapter 13, you can prevent a foreclosure sale by setting up a repayment plan through the Bankruptcy Court for the accumulated arrears.

These are only some of the considerations you need to make when making a decision to file another bankruptcy case. You need to discuss your choices with a bankruptcy attorney with over 30 years of experience in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases in Utah. To get started, schedule a consultation or call us at 801-478-0479 for more information.

Marji walked me thru this ordeal in a way that resulted in me understanding what was going on and what I needed to do to get it done. When we went in front of the trustee there were 5 other cases and mine was the only one that the trustee did not hav…”
– Kevin D.V.

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About Marji Hanson

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My law practice focuses exclusively on consumer bankruptcy law. I can help you decide if bankruptcy will solve your problems and which program, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, is best suited to meet your financial needs. I have learned about the bankruptcy system in the District of Utah from the inside out.

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